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Special Issue "Impacts of the Neighborhood Environment on Cancer Prevention, Outcomes and Disparities"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021) | Viewed by 10073

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Kirsten Beyer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
Interests: health disparities; greenspace; spatial analysis; racial segregation; housing
Dr. Amber L. Pearson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Science, College of Social Science, Michigan State University,East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Interests: health geography; socioeconomic contributors to health in poor and wealthy countries; drinking water; health inequalities; built, physical and social environments

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The characteristics of neighborhood environments are known to contribute to health outcomes and disparities, including in cancer. While research increasingly examines the influence of neighborhood characteristics—particularly measures of socioeconomic status—on cancer, more research is needed. In this Special Issue, we request cancer-focused submissions in three areas that require additional attention: (1) studies incorporating novel social, built and natural environment measures, (2) studies using innovative methods to examine pathways/mechanisms/processes linking neighborhood characteristics to cancer outcomes, and (3) studies that explicitly consider issues of neighborhood exposures, cancer latency and residential mobility over time and space.

  1. Cancer prevention, cancer control, cancer outcomes, cancer disparities
  2. Social environment (structural racism, racial segregation, racial composition, socioeconomic status, neighborhood social cohesion, social norms)
  3. Built environment (transportation, land use, walkability, housing, food environment)
  4. Natural environment (parks, greenspaces, trees, gardens, landscapes)
  5. Residential selection bias, residential mobility, cancer latency, cumulative risk
  6. Causality, mediation, pathways and processes linking neighborhoods and cancer

Dr. Kirsten Beyer
Dr. Amber L. Pearson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Racism and Cancer Screening among Low-Income, African American Women: A Multilevel, Longitudinal Analysis of 2-1-1 Texas Callers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11267; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111267 - 27 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1119
Abstract
Although racism is increasingly being studied as an important contributor to racial health disparities, its relation to cancer-related outcomes among African Americans remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to help clarify the relation between two indicators of racism—perceived racial discrimination and [...] Read more.
Although racism is increasingly being studied as an important contributor to racial health disparities, its relation to cancer-related outcomes among African Americans remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to help clarify the relation between two indicators of racism—perceived racial discrimination and racial residential segregation—and cancer screening. We conducted a multilevel, longitudinal study among a medically underserved population of African Americans in Texas. We assessed discrimination using the Experiences of Discrimination Scale and segregation using the Location Quotient for Racial Residential Segregation. The outcome examined was “any cancer screening completion” (Pap test, mammography, and/or colorectal cancer screening) at follow-up (3–10 months post-baseline). We tested hypothesized relations using multilevel logistic regression. We also conducted interaction and stratified analyses to explore whether discrimination modified the relation between segregation and screening completion. We found a significant positive relation between discrimination and screening and a non-significant negative relation between segregation and screening. Preliminary evidence suggests that discrimination modifies the relation between segregation and screening. Racism has a nuanced association with cancer screening among African Americans. Perceived racial discrimination and racial residential segregation should be considered jointly, rather than independently, to better understand their influence on cancer screening behavior. Full article
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Article
Ecological Study of Variability in the Relationship between Liver Cancer Mortality and Racial Residential Segregation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9732; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189732 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 871
Abstract
Racial segregation has been identified as a predictor for the burden of cancer in several different metropolitan areas across the United States. This ecological study tested relationships between racial segregation and liver cancer mortality across several different metropolitan statistical areas in Wisconsin. Tract-level [...] Read more.
Racial segregation has been identified as a predictor for the burden of cancer in several different metropolitan areas across the United States. This ecological study tested relationships between racial segregation and liver cancer mortality across several different metropolitan statistical areas in Wisconsin. Tract-level liver cancer mortality rates were calculated using cases from 2003–2012. Hotspot analysis was conducted and segregation scores in high, low, and baseline mortality tracts were compared using ANOVA. Spatial regression analysis was done, controlling for socioeconomic advantage and rurality. Black isolation scores were significantly higher in high-mortality tracts compared to baseline and low-mortality tracts, but stratification by metropolitan areas found this relationship was driven by two of the five metropolitan areas. Hispanic isolation was predictive for higher mortality in regression analysis, but this effect was not found across all metropolitan areas. This study showed associations between liver cancer mortality and racial segregation but also found that this relationship was not generalizable to all metropolitan areas in the study area. Full article
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Article
Residence in a Hispanic Enclave Is Associated with Inferior Overall Survival among Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179273 - 02 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1015
Abstract
Hispanic children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) experience poorer overall survival (OS) than non-Hispanic White children; however, few studies have investigated the social determinants of this disparity. In Texas, many Hispanic individuals reside in ethnic enclaves—areas with high concentrations of immigrants, ethnic-specific businesses, [...] Read more.
Hispanic children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) experience poorer overall survival (OS) than non-Hispanic White children; however, few studies have investigated the social determinants of this disparity. In Texas, many Hispanic individuals reside in ethnic enclaves—areas with high concentrations of immigrants, ethnic-specific businesses, and language isolation, which are often socioeconomically deprived. We determined whether enclave residence was associated with ALL survival, overall and among Hispanic children. We computed Hispanic enclave index scores for Texas census tracts, and classified children (N = 4083) as residing in enclaves if their residential tracts scored in the highest statewide quintile. We used Cox regression to evaluate the association between enclave residence and OS. Five-year OS was 78.6% for children in enclaves, and 77.8% for Hispanic children in enclaves, both significantly lower (p < 0.05) than the 85.8% observed among children not in enclaves. Children in enclaves had increased risk of death (hazard ratio (HR) 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.49) after adjustment for sex, age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, metropolitan residence and neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and after further adjustment for child race/ethnicity (HR 1.19, 95% CI 0.97–1.45). We observed increased risk of death when analyses were restricted to Hispanic children specifically (HR 1.30, 95% CI 1.03–1.65). Observations suggest that children with ALL residing in Hispanic enclaves experience inferior OS. Full article
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Article
Increased Use of Porch or Backyard Nature during COVID-19 Associated with Lower Stress and Better Symptom Experience among Breast Cancer Patients
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9102; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179102 - 28 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1267
Abstract
Contact with nature has been used to promote both physical and mental health, and is increasingly used among cancer patients. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges in both access to nature in public spaces and in cancer care. The purpose of our [...] Read more.
Contact with nature has been used to promote both physical and mental health, and is increasingly used among cancer patients. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges in both access to nature in public spaces and in cancer care. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the change in active and passive use of nature, places of engaging with nature and associations of nature contact with respect to improvements to perceived stress and symptom experience among breast cancer patients during the pandemic. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of people diagnosed with breast cancer using ResearchMatch (n = 56) in July 2020 (the first wave of COVID-19). In this US-based, predominantly white, affluent, highly educated, female sample, we found that, on average, participants were first diagnosed with breast cancer at 54 years old and at stage 2 or 3. Eighteen percent of participants experienced disruptions in their cancer care due to the pandemic. As expected, activities in public places significantly decreased as well, including use of parks/trails and botanical gardens. In contrast, spending time near home, on the porch or in the backyard significantly increased. Also observed were significant increases in indoor activities involving passive nature contact, such as watching birds through a window, listening to birdsong, and smelling rain or plants. Decreased usage of parks/trails was significantly associated with higher stress (Coef = −2.30, p = 0.030) and increased usage of the backyard/porch was significantly associated with lower stress (Coef = −2.69, p = 0.032), lower symptom distress (Coef = −0.80, p = 0.063) and lower symptom severity (Coef = −0.52, p = 0.009). The most commonly reported alternatives to outdoor engagement with nature were watching nature through a window (84%), followed by looking at images of nature (71%), and listening to nature through a window (66%). The least commonly enjoyed alternative was virtual reality of nature scenes (25%). While outdoor contact with nature away from home decreased, participants still found ways to experience the restorative benefits of nature in and around their home. Of special interest in planning interventions was the fact that actual or real nature was preferred over that experienced through technology. This could be an artifact of our sample, or could represent a desire to be in touch with the “real world” during a health crisis. Nature contact may represent a flexible strategy to decrease stress and improve symptom experience among patients with cancer, particularly during public health crises or disruptions to cancer care. Full article
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Article
Measuring Neighborhood Landscapes: Associations between a Neighborhood’s Landscape Characteristics and Colon Cancer Survival
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4728; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094728 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1276
Abstract
Landscape characteristics have been shown to influence health outcomes, but few studies have examined their relationship with cancer survival. We used data from the National Land Cover Database to examine associations between regional-stage colon cancer survival and 27 different landscape metrics. The study [...] Read more.
Landscape characteristics have been shown to influence health outcomes, but few studies have examined their relationship with cancer survival. We used data from the National Land Cover Database to examine associations between regional-stage colon cancer survival and 27 different landscape metrics. The study population included all adult New Jersey residents diagnosed between 2006 and 2011. Cases were followed until 31 December 2016 (N = 3949). Patient data were derived from the New Jersey State Cancer Registry and were linked to LexisNexis to obtain residential histories. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI95) for the different landscape metrics. An increasing proportion of high-intensity developed lands with 80–100% impervious surfaces per cell/pixel was significantly associated with the risk of colon cancer death (HR = 1.006; CI95 = 1.002–1.01) after controlling for neighborhood poverty and other individual-level factors. In contrast, an increase in the aggregation and connectivity of vegetation-dominated low-intensity developed lands with 20–<40% impervious surfaces per cell/pixel was significantly associated with the decrease in risk of death from colon cancer (HR = 0.996; CI95 = 0.992–0.999). Reducing impervious surfaces in residential areas may increase the aesthetic value and provide conditions more advantageous to a healthy lifestyle, such as walking. Further research is needed to understand how these landscape characteristics impact survival. Full article
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Article
Neighborhood Disadvantage and Tobacco Retail Outlet and Vape Shop Outlet Rates
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2864; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082864 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1792
Abstract
Neighborhood-level socioeconomic variables, such as the proportion of minority and low-income residents, have been associated with a greater density of tobacco retail outlets (TROs), though less is known about the degree to which these neighborhood indicators are related to vape shop outlet (VSO) [...] Read more.
Neighborhood-level socioeconomic variables, such as the proportion of minority and low-income residents, have been associated with a greater density of tobacco retail outlets (TROs), though less is known about the degree to which these neighborhood indicators are related to vape shop outlet (VSO) density. Many studies of TROs and neighborhood characteristics include only a small set of variables and also fail to take into account the correlation among these variables. Using a carefully curated database of all TROs and VSOs in Virginia (2016–2018), we developed a Bayesian model to estimate a neighborhood disadvantage index and examine its association with rates of outlets across census tracts while also accounting for correlations among variables. Models included 12 census tract variables from the American Community Survey. Results showed that increasing neighborhood disadvantage was associated with a 63% and 64% increase in TRO and VSO risk, respectively. Important variables associated with TRO rates included % renter occupied housing, inverse median gross rent, inverse median monthly housing costs, inverse median monthly housing costs, and % vacant housing units. Important variables associated with VSO rates were % renter occupied housing and % Hispanic population. There were several spatial clusters of significantly elevated risk for TROs and VSOs in western and eastern Virginia. Full article
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Review

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Review
An Evaluation of Natural Environment Interventions for Informal Cancer Caregivers in the Community
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11124; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111124 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 914
Abstract
Home-based informal caregiving by friends and family members of patients with cancer is be-coming increasingly common globally with rates continuing to rise. Such caregiving is often emo-tionally and cognitively demanding, resulting in mental exhaustion and high perceived burden. Support for caregivers may be [...] Read more.
Home-based informal caregiving by friends and family members of patients with cancer is be-coming increasingly common globally with rates continuing to rise. Such caregiving is often emo-tionally and cognitively demanding, resulting in mental exhaustion and high perceived burden. Support for caregivers may be fostered by engagement with the natural environment. Interaction with nature is associated with mental health benefits such as stress reduction and improved well-being. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the state of the science regarding the use of nat-ural environment interventions to support caregivers of cancer patients in the community. A comprehensive scoping review using the Arksey and O’Malley framework and the Preferred Re-porting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses assessed natural environment therapies and mental health outcomes among cancer caregivers. Databases searched included CINAHL, PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane, and Alt HealthWatch. Findings recovered a total of five studies over a 10-year period that met criteria, demonstrating a lack of empirical evidence addressing this po-tential resource to support caregivers. Often, study appraisal was not on nature exposure, but ra-ther other aspects of the projects such as program evaluation, exercise, or complementary thera-pies. Both qualitative and quantitative designs were used but sample sizes were small. Caregivers experienced beneficial results across the various studies and future work could enhance these findings. Full article
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Review
Neighborhood Characteristics and Cancer Survivorship: An Overview of the Current Literature on Neighborhood Landscapes and Cancer Care
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 7192; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18137192 - 05 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1149
Abstract
There is a growing literature on the association between neighborhood contexts and cancer survivorship. To understand the current trends and the gaps in the literature, we aimed to answer the following questions: To what degree, and how, has cancer survivorship research accounted for [...] Read more.
There is a growing literature on the association between neighborhood contexts and cancer survivorship. To understand the current trends and the gaps in the literature, we aimed to answer the following questions: To what degree, and how, has cancer survivorship research accounted for neighborhood-level effects? What neighborhood metrics have been used to operationalize neighborhood factors? To what degree do the neighborhood level metrics considered in cancer research reflect neighborhood development as identified in the Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) guidelines? We first conducted a review guided by PRISMA extension for scoping review of the extant literature on neighborhood effects and cancer survivorship outcomes from January 2000 to January 2021. Second, we categorized the studied neighborhood metrics under six main themes. Third, we assessed the findings based on the LEED-ND guidelines to identify the most relevant neighborhood metrics in association with areas of focus in cancer survivorship care and research. The search results were scoped to 291 relevant peer-reviewed journal articles. Results show that survivorship disparities, primary care, and weight management are the main themes in the literature. Additionally, most articles rely on neighborhood SES as the primary (or only) examined neighborhood level metric. We argue that the expansion of interdisciplinary research to include neighborhood metrics endorsed by current paradigms in salutogenic urban design can enhance the understanding of the role of socioecological context in survivorship care and outcomes. Full article
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